We did not depart Hokitika until 10.35am as the rest of the team had lots of drying of yesterday's gear to complete (256 millimetres of rain in the hills around Hokitika in 24-hours – that's what we rode through) and ultimately I had to write the blog having been too whacked to do so the night before. Fuelled by a very tasty breakfast we were fully kitted out in wet weather gear, wind vests, arm and leg warmers as it looked like we were in for more of yesterday's riding conditions.
We rode down the main street, hung a right onto the highway and over the bridge spanning the very swollen Hokitika river. 7km down we turned left into the Mahinapua track… an old tramline track that wends its way through several kilometres of bush, which is fun to ride, very serene and great for one's soul. We exited right onto a sealed road then down to the main highway turning right again and heading back 2km towards Hokitika (didn't feel right doubling back) to link up with the old rail line that morphs into an 11km rail trail of off road riding.
We spotted a Weka along the trail (seen 6 on our ride so far), which is largely surrounded by wetlands. We made good time to Ross (36km ride) given we had left late and though not as severe as yesterday, the weather conditions were variable and quite cold at times. The local café served up delicious toasted sandwiches clearly made from quality ingredients (relief after yesterday's miserable offering at Cowboys Paradise) and a pot of tea helped warm our cold, wet bodies.
Rene checked our bikes while Denise refilled our water bottles with electrolytes (great fuel when doing prolonged physical exercise). We added one more clothing layer and changed our soaking socks before getting back on the bikes (raining like hell) for the 44km afternoon ride to Hari Hari. We mistakenly cycled past our required right turn 5km down the highway and unnecessarily rode up a very long and steep hill before realising our error and turning back to link up with our off road trail (2km of additional pain not required). 11km of gravel road and we only encountered one vehicle, which is why we ride off road as much as we can.
That left us with circa 28km of highway riding to get to Hari Hari. Heading down the highway we passed our support crew driving north which was quite bemusing – they quickly caught up with us and we discovered they had turned down the correct road that we had missed before we had turned back consequently missing us and had been searching for us. There were quite a few hills, but we are riding into some real fitness and comfortably conquered them all. The upside of riding sealed road is you can average higher speeds (definitely easier riding) and even though it rained most of the way the wind had dropped and the temperature was 3-4 degrees warmer than yesterday.
We rode closely in single file with the rear rider calling out when they heard vehicles coming from behind, so we could move off the road if required. given there were negligible fringes all the way. We made great time arriving at our motel at Hari Hari around 5.30pm. Once again our support team had put all the gear in our rooms, they took our bikes and sent us off for a welcome hot shower. Dinner at the local pub tonight, I'm sure it will be good and undoubtedly plentiful as is the Southern way. 667km of 1365 completed and only 8 of our 18 days gone, we're well on track and Rene and Denise have aptly named us the ‘Hospice Warriors'.